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Sustainability @ Earlham

Overview   |   Green Initiatives   |   In the Classroom   |   Get Involved

Overview

At Earlham, sustainability is integrated across the campus, in operations, academics, and student life. Internships, events, courses and themed residential options are just some of the many ways students are invited to engage with sustainability. From making the campus a sustainable place to live and learn to studying sustainability through the lenses of the environment, social justice, and economics, sustainability is a key part of the transformative education that Earlham prides itself upon.

The Comprehensive Sustainability Plan was originally written by the Environmental Responsibility Committee (predecessor to the Sustainability Progress Committee) in the 2011-2012 academic year. The document covers the broad categories of Operations, Community, Curriculum, and Coordination with specific, measurable goals in each area. The plan was updated in 2016 by a group of Environmental Studies seniors as their capstone project. Read the plan here.

This governance committee meets monthly and is charged with assessing the implementation of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

Current committee members include:

  • Sena Landey, Vice President for Finance and Administration
  • Jamey Pavey, Director of the Environmental Leadership Program
  • ]Ian Smith, Director of Facilities
  • Steven May, Director of Food Services
  • Shane Peters, Associate Dean of Student Life and Director of Residence Life
  • Courtney Scerbak, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Thor Hogan, Associate Professor of Politics and Environmental Studies
  • Corey Fritz, EPIC Programs Coordinator
  • Lauren Horton, Head Volleyball Coach
  • Bill Gray, Lead Master Electrician
  • Cynthia Grinspan, Administrative Assistant, Languages and Cultures
  • Smirthy Ganesan (EC Class of 2019)
  • Emma Turcotte (EC Class of 2018)

STARS

The Sustainability Tracking and Rating System (STARS), managed by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is the assessment tool Earlham uses to track our sustainability progress. Earlham first submitted a report to AASHE STARS in 2010 and received a Bronze designation. Bronze was also received in 2013. In early 2016 the college re-submitted data to STARS and for the first time has achieved a Silver rating! Read about STARS on their website. See the press release on our achievement here!

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Green Initiatives

Earlham College is engaged in many ongoing efforts to balance the environmental, economic, and social impacts of campus operations. From recycling to energy conservation to the use of safer cleaning products, these efforts reflect collaboration among many different offices on campus to achieve Earlham’s sustainability goals.

Recycling -nov -2017

Earlham provides single-stream recycling in all buildings on campus. Residents of college-owned houses recycle through the City of Richmond. Earlham also offers battery recycling and periodic e-waste recycling drives. Read more.

Earlham currently collects pre-consumer organic wastes from food services operations on campus and also collects compostable material from college-owned houses. Read more.

Earlham is committed to seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification on all new buildings and major renovation projects. We currently have 2 LEED Gold Rated Buildings (new construction), 1 LEED Silver Rated Building (renovation), and 1 LEED Certified Building (renovation). Read more.

The Earlham Free Store is a place for useable items to be exchanged.  It is meant to help the Earlham community foster an economy of shared resources. The Earlham Free Store works to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill by giving unwanted items a second life. Read more.

The Green Office Program strives to educate offices/departments on campus about sustainable practices. Members of the Student Sustainability Corps conduct audits of office operations and make recommendations. Participating offices receive a rating based on practices implemented. Read more.

At the end of each semester, the Student Sustainability Corps coordinates a collection of usable items that students would otherwise dispose of and donates them to local charities or to our on-campus Free Store in an effort to reuse these items rather than send them to the landfill.

Aramark, the College's housekeeping service, is committed to eco-friendly cleaning and has transitioned the college's cleaning systems to "Blue Cleaning," a new technology that uses deionized water to clean hard and soft surfaces across campus without any chemicals.

In the Classroom

Earlham College faculty engage students in the academic study of sustainability through a variety of lenses. Much of this study occurs outside the walls of the traditional “classroom” to include experiential learning on campus and in the local community, as well as in international locations.

 

Earlham College’s major in Environmental Sustainability offers the opportunity to develop both the expertise and the leadership skills the world needs moving forward. The Environmental Sustainability major:

  • Is an interdisciplinary major combining study in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.
  • Encourages experiential learning through field research, internships, and applied projects that emphasize student leadership and community throughout all four years.
  • Partners with Earlham's Environmental Leadership Program for opportunities to apply what is learned in the classroom to the real world through programs in outdoor education, sustainable agriculture and campus sustainability.

ENSU 141 Environment, Society and Sustainability and ENSU 151 Environment, Science and Sustainability take a systems-thinking approach to the study of environmental problems. Lab sessions engage students experientially in the systems context by exploring Earlham College as an environmental system which is embedded in local and regional systems. These courses are open to any student and can be taken to fulfill divisional general education requirements.

During the spring semester of senior year, Environmental Sustainability majors engage in a collaborative, integrated research project, often with a community partner. Recent projects include Playground with a Purpose and an update to Earlham’s Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

Student-led courses in sustainable agriculture practices are offered each semester at Miller Farm, Earlham’s student-run farm. Read more.

Whether you do it for endurance training, running errands, or fun, cycling is an excellent way to promote health and sustainability. This fall semester course will include a Wellness component introducing riders to different kinds of cycling, a Sustainability component looking into bike policy, planning and community engagement, and an Education component teaching bike safety and maintenance skills.

Integrated Pathways allow students to personalize their education and make direct connections between academic interests and co-curricular activities. Several Integrated Pathways include environmental and/or sustainability themes. Read more.

Get Involved

Students can get involved with sustainability at Earlham in lots of ways, from paid positions with the Student Sustainability Corps to living on the Sustainability Floor in Olvey-Andis Residence Hall to volunteering at the Free Store.

 

Many of the sustainability initiatives are coordinated by members of the Student Sustainability Corps (SSC). Open positions with the SSC are advertised via Handshake each semester. Gain great experience working on real-world problems on campus. Read more.

Several options exist to live in sustainability and/or environmentally themed housing on campus. For first-year students, consider the Sustainability Floor (currently the 3rd floor of Olvey-Andis). For second through fourth years, other options include Gurney House (Environmental), Foster House (Outdoor Education), Fry House (Sustainable Agriculture) and the Co-op Floor. See Living-Learning Communities for additional information.

Miller Farm has a long history of experiential learning and experimentation in sustainable agriculture practices. The Farm is located on back campus, just beyond the Suzanne Hoerner Equestrian Center. Check out what’s happening at the Farm by coming out for a Farm Day (Saturday mornings). Read more.

Many opportunities exist right on campus to enjoy the beauty of nature. Go hiking on backcampus, explore the Whitewater Gorge, or bike the Cardinal Greenway. Incoming first-year students should consider August Wilderness, a pre-orientation program that includes an 11-day backpacking experience in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. Students also can enroll in courses in Outdoor Education to improve skills in rock climbing, backpacking and canoeing. Read more.

Earlham has hybrid and city bikes available for daily use at no charge to members of the Earlham community. Mountain bikes are also available at $5/day. Enroll in the bike share, then head to Public Safety to check out a bike!

Interested in getting involved? Consider volunteering to help reduce Earlham’s impact even more. Complete the volunteer form, and we’ll be in touch with more information!

Begin your exploration of the environment and sustainability before classes even start! Apply to participate in an EPIC Term pre-orientation program. The locally based PLACE — Environment & Community program will introduce you to the local environment in the Whitewater Valley, while the August Wilderness program will let you begin your college career with a wilderness expedition in the Uintas Mountains of Utah!  Read more.